There she was, dancing the Ländler with the Captain. They were holding each other's hands and their arms were stretched over their heads to form an arc. As she gazed into his face, she could feel her own warming up. While her face was heating up, her feet continued to move swiftly across the courtyard to the music of the Ländler. His eyes were locked on hers and her eyes were locked on his. Her heart began to race. A wave of panic began to emerge deep within her core. Stop, she said to herself, stop before it's too late. And good thing she did because everything was turning into a white, hazy, snowy vignette. She was losing her peripheral vision.

"Why, he couldn't keep his eyes off you. You can clearly tell that he was in love with you," said a voice from behind. Maria spun around and found herself face-to-face with the Baroness in her bedroom. She was elegantly dressed in a shiny gold gown that flattered her tall, slender figure. Maria, on the other hand, was wearing nothing but a simple white petticoat. Maria's eyes widened and brought her hands to her cheeks in complete disbelief. Her face was burning hot. She dashed towards the door, swung it open, and ran out. Before she knew it, she was falling. My, what would happen when she lands on the foyer floor? Goodness, she thought to herself, I've been falling for quite some time now. I could have sewed some more play clothes in that time!

Clothes. She looked down at herself. She was completely naked.

Maria's eyes flew open, gasping for air. Beads of perspiration crawled down her neck and forehead. She sat up from her bed and wiped the sweat off of her face with the palms of her hands. It was just a dream, she told herself, and began to calm down. She rubbed her eyes with her fists and looked around her. She could see the moonlight stream through her window and onto an unfamiliar-looking bedspread. The brass frame at the end of her bed had disappeared. She wasn't at the villa anymore. Where was she? She fumbled around through the darkness, trying to locate her night stand with her hands. Nothing. This definitely was not the villa. The hard bed. The paper-thin bed sheets. The view out the window of the moon majestically rising above the mountains. She was back at the Abbey.

Maria rolled out of bed and walked over to the window. Resting her forearms against the window sill, she gazed pensively at the moon then diverted her attention to the shimmering rooftops of the houses, churches, and buildings that comprised Salzburg. She began to ponder on what really happened at the party last week and the reason why she left the villa. It was spin, shuffle forward, and spin, that's how you were supposed to finish it, she said to herself. Maria was angry, humiliated, and disappointed by the fact that she could not finish the dance. Why did you stop dancing? It was going just fine! Why did you make up a lame excuse claiming that you forgot the rest of the dance? She had so many questions to ask. She was overwhelmed by a whirlwind of indescribable emotions during the Ländler and continued to experience them to this very moment. Though she couldn't pinpoint all of them, she felt frightened, isolated, confused, ashamed…

Tears rolled down her cheeks. Why is this happening to me? What if the Baroness is right about the Captain being in love with me? Could I be in love with him? Her eyes widened in horror at her last thought. Did she just think of the unthinkable? The window view of Salzburg quickly transformed into a watery blur as her eyes flooded with more tears. I can't go back. I can't face him again. Maria walked over to her bed and knelt down. Placing her elbows on her bed, she clasped her hands together as she prayed. Choking on her tears, Maria buried her head into her arms and cried herself to sleep.

"My child, you have to face life," the Reverend Mother said to a kneeling Maria the next morning in her office. "You have to go out there and find what you're looking for. You must go back." She gently stroked Maria's cheek with her hand.

"No! I can't," Maria tearfully protested. "I can't face him anymore."

"Has he harmed you in any way?" the Reverend Mother asked. Maria wiped her tears away with the back of her hand.

"No, it's just that…oh please don't send me back!"

The Reverend Mother reached out to cradle Maria's cheeks in her hands. Her motherly gestures felt so reassuring, so wonderful that if she were to let go, Maria would collapse into the same fragile state that she was in before. She did not want to go.

"Maria, if you listen to your heart, then it will guide you through the path that you were meant to take."

Maria stopped weeping for a moment. A solemn silence filled the room. The Reverend Mother firmly gripped Maria's arms.

"Now go, my child," the Reverend Mother urged. "Sister Margaretta and Sister Sophia have started packing your bag. God will always be there to protect you."

Maria slowly rose from the floor and disappeared out the doorway.

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